Directed by the incomparable Agnes Varda, this is a sumptuous and subtle six and a half minutes study of the way our natural surroundings affect our sensual worldviews. The two cross-cultural lovers here explore their mutual passion contingent with Persian iconography. This is hence a conflation of architecture, their shapes and symmetry as well as paintings and poetry, hinting at the sacred, the sublime and the mystic.  I am in awe of the cinematography as also the fact that it is a time-capsule, belonging to pre-1979 Iran.

THE PLEASURE OF LOVE IN IRAN stings most in today’s era where while the world has indeed become more open in discourses such as the one here, even the very title of this short is an anathema in the nation it is based in.



A NIGHT AT THE OPERA is director Sergei Loznitsa’s visual recounting of the titular event in Paris from the 1950s, capturing a distant yet intimate portrait of familiar figures and the regal talents of Maria Callas. However, it’s the roster of attendees that we look out for. Charles Chaplin, Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot, Wallis Simpson and Prince Edward as also Queen Elizabeth are among those who mark their iconic presence. The latter’s appearance especially rakes up the past, her deservedly problematic position in the annals of monarchy to the modern world as also the reiteration of storied tradition in the wake of her recent passing, abjectly dissonant with the somber demands of a post-Covid reckoning.

While this black and white retrospective has a rather gothic quality to it in terms of the lighting and grand setting, the perfumed ensemble, stiff courtesies and even the patronage of a globally elusive form as opera point at the naked truth: the pomposity of this exclusive swish set that is and will be enchanting to the same public that is kept at bay from this seat of artistic legacy for the one percent.

In fact, what we are left with is an empty feeling devoid of actual nostalgia or even exalted appreciation we are supposed to hold for the artists here. Every hint of glamour ultimately gets drowned out by the reality of a social order that celebrates the unattainable. 



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